© Amelia J. Brackin / Alabama Athletics

Courtesy of Alabama Media Relations

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Kayla Hoffman, captain of Alabama’s 2011 NCAA Champion gymnastics team, earned the prestigious Today’s Top VIII Award, the NCAA announced Tuesday.

Aca A This is above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It is such a tremendous honor and one that I will always cherish,Aca A Hoffman said. Aca A The men and women who have earned this award are such amazing students, athletes and people. I am humbled to stand among them.Aca A

The Today’s Top VIII award recognizes current student-athletes who have completed their athletic eligibility for their success in competition, in the classroom and in the community. Recipients will be honored in January at the NCAA Honors and Delegates Celebration at the 2012 NCAA Convention.

"Kayla finished her career in grand style and I’m very proud to see her take her place among these extraordinary men and women as part of the NCAA Top VIII," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. " I think what I am most proud of though is the fact that Kayla came to The University of Alabama as a young girl, and she is now prepared to go out into the world as a strong, accomplished woman."

The Union, N.J., native earned the award after leading the Crimson Tide to the 2011 NCAA, NCAA Regional and Southeastern Conference Championships, giving Alabama its first "triple crown" since 1988. She was honored with the Honda Award, given annually to the nation’s top gymnast, in April, and she was named the SEC Female Athlete of the Year in June.

"From leading the Crimson Tide to its fifth national gymnastics championship, to maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout her career and being named the Academic All-American of the Year, to using her strong, positive presence to make a difference in the community around her, Kayla has demonstrated a balance of excellence that makes her more than worthy of this latest honor and her place among the NCAA’s Top VIII," UA President Dr. Robert E. Witt said.

Hoffman, who was named the 2011 Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year, clinched the Tide’s fifth NCAA Championship in mid-April with a 9.95 on the floor exercise and was the NCAA runner-up in the all-around and balance beam. She earned All-American accolades in the all-around, vault and balance beam this season, finishing her career with five first-team honors.

" We are very proud of Kayla and all she accomplished as a part of the Crimson Tide," Director of Athletics Mal Moore said. " With this honor, she joins the outstanding tradition that Alabama has created within the NCAA Top VIII award, becoming our 10th honoree overall and the seventh since 2002."

Hoffman is also the fourth gymnast to earn the honor, joining Meredith Willard (1997), AndreA A(C) Pickens (2002) and Kristin Sterner (2003).

As senior, Hoffman became the first in league history to win both SEC Gymnast of the Year and the SEC Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in the same season after clinching Alabama’s 2011 SEC title by winning the vault with a 9.95. She also earned NCAA and SEC Postgraduate Scholarships and carries a career 4.0 grade point average in human development and family studies.

Alabama’s previous NCAA Top VIII recipients include: Randy Hall (football/1975), Steadman Shealy (football/1980), Meredith Willard (gymnastics/1997), AndreA A(C) Pickens (gymnastics/2002), Kristin Sterner (gymnastics/2003), DeMeco Ryans (football/2006), Beth Mallory (track and field/2007), Brittany Rogers (softball/2009) and Greg McElroy (football/2010).